IR Helicopter Controller Hacked Into A Linux Game Pad

syma-linux-joystick

[Mike Kohn’s] Syma S107 helicopter wasn’t flying as well as it used to due to a broken gear, he figured he might as well find some use for the toy’s controller, since it was currently sitting around collecting dust. Having done a bunch of work with Syma IR protocols earlier this year, he decided it would be pretty easy to get the remote working as a game pad for his Linux desktop.

He patched an IR receiver into an MSP430 board, which decodes the incoming IR signals, sending them to his computer over a serial connection. [Mike] dug around in the Linux source for some good joystick driver code to borrow and found something that was close enough to work. After a bit of tweaking he loaded up his driver module and fired up Mame to give [Ms. Pacman] a try.

He says that the controller worked without much trouble, though as he discovered in previous projects, there are some quirks in the controller that make it somewhat less than convenient to use full time. Check out his site if you’re interested in taking a look at the code that he used to get things running.

Decoding, Then Cloning An IR Helicopter Toy’s Control Signals

[Mike Field] got his hands on this Syma S107 helicopter with the intention of hacking it. After playing around with it for a while he set out to build his own infrared controller for the toy. It seems there is some protocol information about it published in various forum posts, but he decided it would be more fun to figure it out for himself.

He started off trying to capture the IR signals using Adafruit’s tutorial which has come in handy on a number of other projects. He could get his television remote to register, but not the toy’s controller. This didn’t stop fun, instead he tore open the controller and grabbed a logic sniffer to see what’s being pushed to the IR LEDs. The signals are a bit curious. It seems two different packets are sent with each command which [Mike] thinks is for use with two different models of the toy. In addition to that the frames are not synchronized. But a bit of 10 MHz sampling helped him to figure everything out, and he believes he’s got a more accurate version of the protocol than had previously been discovered. To prove it he developed an FPGA-based controller using VHDL which he shows off in the clip after the break.

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Jam A Remote Helicopter

The Syma S107 IR is a popular little remote controlled helicopter. When a friend of [Michael]’s started flying one around the office he decided to try and jam the signal, creating a no fly zone. Luckily some people on the internet have already decoded the IR signals used by the flying menace. From there, a quick browsing of Mouser to source some LEDs, and to whip up some code for a TI MSP430 was all that was left.

The software on the micro controller is set to broadcast a “thrust off” signal, but [Michael] admits he is not 100% sure if the helicopter is actually receiving that, or if the signal from the no fly zone is mixing with the remote’s signal, causing garbage to be received. Either way when the helicopter gets in range of the no fly zone pad it drops from the air.

Things didn’t go perfectly though, overestimating the current capabilities of the MSP was causing the micro controller to reset and crash the debugger. But a simple rearrangement of how the signals are sent quickly solved this problem.

Join us after the break for a quick video.

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